Shoppers warned over rogue debs dress websites
Consumers have been warned to take care purchasing dresses for debs or weddings after a flood of complaints about rogue dress sites.
The European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC) has warned that shoppers have run into difficulties with unreliable websites this summer.
It warned that offers that sounded too good to be true probably were.
Some websites were using website domains registered in certain European countries, but the business turned out to be based outside the EU. This meant consumers did not have the full protection of EU law if the dresses failed to arrive or turned out to be substandard.
In one case, a customer bought a dress from a trader who appeared to be based in the UK but it was very poor quality. It turned out the trader was actually operating out of China, meaning that the purchaser could only seek reimbursement through her bank.
In another case, a woman ordered two dresses from a trader on Facebook who appeared to be UK-based. However, one dress never arrived and it emerged the other one had been dispatched from China. Once again the only option open to the consumer was to seek redress from her bank.
ECC strongly advised consumers to thoroughly research a trader when shopping online for special occasions and to be aware a web address did not mean it was necessarily based in the same country.
This could lead to long delays in getting deliveries, which could leave people disappointed. It also meant that European consumer rights might not apply to the purchase, causing difficulties getting redress.
"Consumers are further encouraged to be cautious of any offers advertising expensive or designer garments at vastly reduced prices," ECC said.
It urged consumers to check that the trader provided full contact details and to carry out an internet search for feedback from other customers. They should also use a secure payment method such as a credit card when purchasing online, as their bank or card provider might be able to help if there was a problem.
"In particular, consumers are strongly advised not to send payment by bank transfer, as this money cannot be traced thereafter," it said.
However ECC refused to name the rogue sites it had identified, saying its policy was not to disclose such information from consumers.